Related: 8th Annual IAAPA International Charity Golf Tournament Raises $58, 000 for Give Kids The World / GKTW ‘s Serendipity sets sail / Over 25, 000 Gather at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010 / IAAPA Inducts Master Storyteller Bob Rogers into Hall of Fame / Asian Expo 2010 : A View from a Bridge
I imagine gin-soaked retired colonels dozing in wicker chairs while solicitors from small market towns pootle round the greens in near silence. “It’s not even a sport” as John McEnroe once observed.
So it was with a degree of trepidation that I entered the IAAPA Charity Golf tournament last week, the 8th to be held in aid of Give Kids the World (GKTW), a charity organisation that creates dreamlike vacations for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Golfers start absurdly early. I headed for the Peabody hotel for 6:30am and asked my hotel receptionist how long to get there . “Two minutes in a taxi” she said – nobody walks in Orlando. On the bus I met with Rachmat Sutiono, President of PT. Funworld Prima, over from Malaysia and a veteran of many years IAAPA golf. I told him I couldn’t play golf. That’s ok, he said, “but can you drink?”
The event took place at Hawk’s Landing Golf Club at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort. It’s a gorgeous, lush course with azaleas tucked around the greens and native pines and Florida’s distinctive swamp cypress lining the fairways. Turtles scudded lazily through the waters of the many lakes and ponds with which I was shortly to become familiar. As we queued to register I chatted with Miikka Seppala, a Finn and CEO of Sarkanniemi amusement park which boasts the world’s most northerly dolphinarium and with Tom Burnet, line management company Lo-Q’s new CEO. Registered and legitimate , those cold dolphins seemed a world away as we set off in our buggies and approached the first hole.
My team was composed of Ravi Shankar (VP, Operations, ETI), Mark Simmons and Henry Tyson (Owner and Executive VP respectively at Colorvision International Inc.) and me. When our turn came and Mark teed off I experienced a strange and subtle feeling known well to those who both play and watch sport: a mixture of elation at being witness to sporting prowess – the precision and power of an athlete in his prime, the perfect hand-eye coordination – coupled with the sinking, creeping realisation that I was about to make a fool of myself. As he launched his ball into the sky, forming a huge arc aimed straight at the hole and immediately after it was followed by (almost) equally good shots from Henry and Ravi I prepared to take what would be the first of a great many ineffectual swipes at the ball.
Henry and Mark, it transpired, were serious golfers. At one stage Ravi and I, sharing a cart, left the two of them by the edge of a big pond, each equipped with some Heath-Robinson-style gadget designed for fishing golf balls out of lakes. After retrieving their own they lingered and found many more, lost to the world and as happy as two schoolboys fishing for sticklebacks in a creek. Mark also produced what I initially thought was a pair of defective binoculars as they had just one eye piece (a binocular?). Turned out it was a device for measuring the distance from any given point to the flag. I used it to calculate the yardage from where I teed off to the nearest body of water.
Our buggies were not wanting for technology either: screens told us everything we could possibly want to know about the course and about each hole, giving different viewpoints and suggesting the best approaches. The vehicles felt like they were on our side, just a few years and some clever software away from shouting “You da man”, “Way to go!” and throwing baseball caps in the air when we holed a putt.
After the golf we were treated to a buffet lunch and awards were given for various endeavours during the morning’s play. First prize went to a team from Congo River Golf in Traverse City, Mich. (Andrew Callies, Christian Vozza, Giorgio Vozza, and Tyson Vozza) and Second was the group from Ripley’s Entertainment in Orlando, Fla. Unfortunately there was not an award for most balls lost.
Thanks were given and speeches made. GKTW President Pamela Landwirth said, “Each year we look forward to the Annual IAAPA/Give Kids The World Golf Tournament. Our dearest friends from the entire amusement industry come together and raise an incredible amount of money for the precious children we serve. We just can’t say thank you enough.”
As we ate and drank, the Brits among us struggled like dogs in hot cars in the blazing midday sun. Simworx’s Terry Monkton – from the midlands where such weather is rare – and clearly a man with a sound technical mind, sat with a napkin over his head.
It would be tough to imagine a better or more successful event nor a more fitting way with which to kick start the expo: great sport, great friends and a great cause. It’s just not cricket though.
Image: We were followed throughout the morning by a lady who insisted on plying us with beers and sandwiches. Here, she is being restrained by Henry Tyson of Colorvision International. Photo, thanks to Ravi Shankar.